Sundowning is a term used to describe a time of day that seniors with Dementia may experience mood changes.  This is more prevalent with a time change.  With the shorter days, and the fading light, symptoms may prevail.  During the longer days in Spring and Summer managing symptoms of sundowning and working with a senior can be much easier.  You are able to do more activities that extend into the early evening.

A person who is sundowning may manifest anxiety, appear disoriented or confused.  As a result, they may act out and yell, or pace, and be restless.

As a family caregiver, you may feel tired and frustrated at the end of your day.  Your loved one will pick up on your frustration or agitation which can exacerbate their reactions to you.  Managing your emotions is key for the person with Dementia.  Step away for a moment to regroup and return with a smile.   Keep track of small things that might trigger reactions in your loved one. The family caregiver would do well to seek a companion for respite at that time of day to relieve them.

 

A caregiver must be experienced in being able to de-escalate the senior’s increasing demands and disorientation.  Being able to redirect with kindness is a must.  Utilize humour or try to organize a walk, drive or activity around this time of the day to take their mind off of their symptoms.

 

Try these tips to assist with managing Sundowning:

  1. Try to arrange your day with the same schedule each day.  Routine is key for the senior with dementia.  When the time changes, altering your routine slightly to match the fading light could be helpful.
  2. Journal behaviours and reactions, stress signals and agitation. Once you know their triggers, it will be easier to avoid situations that promote agitation and confusion.
  3. Take that time of the day to get out, see if distractions are helpful.  Although you may be tired, this is a good time to have a caregiver come in to assist you so you can get out.
  4. Eating and drinking habits are also very useful to manage.  Simply reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, this will help with falling asleep.  Eat your heavier meal at mid-day and have a lighter meal in the early evening.
  5. Stay calm and reassure them to stay calm.  Lots of reassurance can help to put them at ease.  Don’t use too many words, repeat a short mantra of ‘everything is ok – we are just fine’ and smile.
  6. Keep things calm in the evening and perform most of your busy activities during the day.  Play quiet music or engage in a puzzle.  Do not make the environment too busy or noisy as processing is difficult for a senior with Dementia.
  7. If seniors are confused once they have gone to bed, they may start to wander at night.  Utilize a motion detector light outside their door and use a baby monitor to listen for when they are up and around.

You are the reflection for your loved one with Dementia.  We have a lot of experience working with seniors with Dementia, and our advice is to smile no matter what you need to convey as a smile will put your senior at ease.  Plan well, give short instructions to follow, smile and carry on.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) not only affects seniors with Dementia.  Many of us experience a change in mood around the ebb and flow of time changes and the shorter days.  Many people experience great benefits from light therapy lamps.  If this is an option for your senior, do discuss this with your doctor.

 

Written by Johanna Booy – Care & Company Ltd.

www.SeniorCareVictoria.ca

It’s amazing the items left over when someone you love passes. My mum passed away on her birthday this year. My dad is in an independent living home, having moved only 3 weeks prior to her death. The house they lived in sold and was closing at the end of July. So much to do to complete this chapter of their life.
On the last day before closing, and on the buffet where my mother’s family pictures were arrayed for the past 14 years, were a number of items no one wanted… Antique dolls, photographs of people no one recognized, tacky holiday pictures in frames … That is until a grandson with a sentimental heart arrived on the scene. He wanted the button jar – a mason jar full of buttons! “Buttons” he said “I want those”.

“Really, I remarked – a button jar! What on earth will you do with that?” “Well, it’s obvious someone went to a lot of work to save them”, he remarks.
Those buttons represent 65 years of painstakingly removing small decorative and to today’s standard, antique buttons from items of clothing her three daughters had outgrown or simple garments she acquired from odd jobs she did sewing for her clients in the 60s.

Somethings as simple as this button jar, conjures up more memories that I can recall. Not only did we collect buttons and threads, but zippers, snaps, bows, bling (sequins) and anything we would otherwise have to pay for at the shop.

These buttons in a jar, represent once more things we don’t think of saving in this disposable society. On the other hand, how many buttons and zippers adorn the clothing of our present-day clothing, making this relic a true item of sentiment for one grandson to bring home and wonder…. Why exactly did I pick this?

Memories are made of this!

 

Written by Johanna Booy, of Care & Company Ltd., SeniorCareVictoria.ca.

Functional Fitness – Assisting Seniors at Home

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) is a term health professionals use to describe an individual’s daily self-care activities. They use it as a measure of your functional status to assess how fit you are to stay in your home. There are six ADLs including bathing or showering, dressing, self-feeding, personal hygiene and grooming, toilet hygiene, and functional mobility (the ability to move yourself from one place to another).

“The most important is functional mobility, also called transferring and mobilizing,” says Johanna Booy, CEO of Care and Company – a home care company committed to assisting elders to stay at home and recover from major surgery.

“Without functional mobility, you’re not going to be able to go down to the dining room to eat, or get out of bed to get to the bathroom to do your toileting, or dress yourself. All the other ADLs are dependent on your strength; functional strength.”

Stay in the home you love longer

The biggest advantage of being a functionally fit person is that you get to stay in your own home as long as possible,” says Johanna.

When a discussion group at Minton House were asked about staying home, they unanimously agreed it was their top priority. They wanted to sleep in their own bed, eat their own meals, be free to make choices and remain independent. One resident responded that she liked her home because “I’m familiar with my surroundings.” Her neighbor agreed. He said, “I can do what I want to do when I want to do it.”

As we grow older, remaining independent really comes down to your functional fitness. You need to stay strong. The good news is, with a little commitment and help, you can maintain, even regain your functional strength. “Whatever activity you do, there is an exercise that will target the muscles and joints required to do the activity and enable you to do them longer,” says Johanna.

Fall Prevention

One of the thing that happens when your balance deminishes is a tendency to shuffle in order to try and keep your feet close to the ground.

“Every time you strike your heel on the floor, it impacts the bones and builds density. Shuffling does nothing for the bone. If you’re going to walk properly, you need to utilize an even pattern of heel to toe,” says Johanna.

The exercises Care & Company employ helps you to establish a regular gait pattern and increase your balance.   “That’s the whole reason for these exercises, so that the neural muscular facilitation takes place between the muscles messaging the brain and the brain gives feedback to the muscles.”

Picking Yourself Up

Falling is dangerous, but getting stranded on the floor after a fall can be deadly. Care & Company has a solution.

“While I certainly don’t recommend any exercises from the floor, I do show you how to get up off the floor, because many people who fall don’t have any way to get up off the ground. I teach a couple of very simple ways to get up again,” says Johanna.  And there are some fine exercises which target the upper body and legs to assist with the push up off the floor.

In Home Chair Exercises

Even if you have difficulty standing, you can do many of these exercises from the comfort of your own chair and reap the benefits of increased strength.

Recover from surgery and hospital visits more quickly

If you undergo hip or knee replacement surgery, the exercise program you should do post-surgery is very comprehensive. These post-surgery exercises are extremely important. If you don’t do them, the muscles targeted in the surgery will atrophy.

When you leave the hospital, the outpatient program that sets you up with exercises sincerely hope you will continue to follow-up in the  community where you have the support of friends and qualified personnel to assist you.

Seniors are into fitness for a completely different reason. They want to recover from surgery, focus on balance issues to prevent falling and make sure old injuries don’t come back to haunt them.

At Senior Care Victoria, we enable you to stay at home as long as possible. Our in-home exercise program incorporates cardiovascular and strength training and specific exercises for balance and core strength.

Introduction to Caregiving 101

Statistics Canada states that the number of Canadians who are 65 or older grew 20 per cent between 2011 and 2016, surpassing for the first time the number of children aged 14 and under.

It’s the largest increase for that age group in 70 years, and the highest increase in the proportion of seniors since Confederation.

The oldest of baby boomers are only now just coming into an age where they may need extra assistance with activities of daily living, or instrumental tasks of living such as mowing the lawn, shopping, or extensive house keeping.

Families are in dire need of companions and especially live in workers.  This article mainly focuses on the rewards of providing live-in to the elderly.  Workers often wonder what experience they may need to provide this care.  For many it starts as companionship with a few key additional aspects to manage the care of an elderly person to palliative care at home.

What are the appeals of such a position you may ask?  Well, for one there is a lot of autonomy in the position of providing live-in companionship or care.  Aside from the fact that you must follow a certain protocol of provision for medications and directives for your senior, you will be able to organize your day around what your senior likes to do, play games, go for drives and assist them in engaging with friends or family but now you are the set of wheels to accommodate this.

Newly Retired but not really ready to give up working?  There may be a part time position that is perfect for you!  Joan recently retired, she’s 63 years old and single but finds she has a lot of free time on her hands.   Joan expressed the desire to work a maximum of 3 days per week as a live-in to a senior gentleman.  Listen to what Joan has to say about her experiences:

“ We have a blast!  Mitch is the best!  He’s like going out with my dad.  Many think Mitch is my dad, which gives us both a little giggle.  Mitch has good mobility and can still get out and about.  His hearing is failing and dealing with cash is getting a little harder.  He used to just open his wallet at the grocery store and have the cashier help themselves.  A little guidance goes a long way, and now I budget the shopping carefully to make sure $40 or 2 x $20 bills are sufficient so Mitch (who has been cued) can pull out the 2 bills on his own!  We go out for lunch, read the paper to each other, and in the afternoon, we read together (and nod off while doing so).  Mitch loves to walk and shop and take drives.  He loves current events and we have great debates.  Why can’t Mitch be on his own?  Well, he has short term memory issues, border line dementia and his reasoning skills aren’t always the best.  Mitch lost his wife 2 years ago and is alone in his own home.  We love doing activities together and I love that I make a difference in his life …. And he in mine!”

If you are a compassionate and caring person, with a little time on your hands, you may be interested in seeking a position where you can both make a difference and be fulfilled at the same time.

Please feel free to join Senior Care Victoria, Care & Company at our session on September 24 from 7pm to 9pm called ‘Introduction to Caregiving 101’ at #116-2187 Oak Bay Avenue.  Coffee & tea supplied.

Home support services for seniors are frequently required as a result of a fall at home resulting in fracture or injury necessitating the need for care.  As a result of declining eye sight, poor balance, arthritic joints, back pain and immobility issues, we must be more careful in performing Activities of Daily Living.  Here are […]

What is ‘Aging in Place’ exactly?  The senior who Ages in Place lives at home until they die.   Various types of support services are implemented to ensure that all the needs of the senior are met.  Home Support Workers, Registered Care Aides and a variety of Nursing staff will help the senior live at home with as little as 2 hours per day to full 24 hour live-in support.

Aging in Place is also the term used when seniors are looking for a residential care home. Once seniors move to a care home, it is very hard on them to move them through various levels of care when care needs increase.  Therefore it is a very important question to ask when interviewing the care facility.  All complex care residences/hospitals will have that capacity.

More and more, seniors and their families are making the choice to remain at home with help.  Emotionally, physically and financially, seniors benefit from Aging in Place.

Falls become a risk as we age due to loose carpet, clutter or balance issues.  The fact that you may have fallen once means you have a high risk of falling again. If you fall – don’t panic.  All your energy and adrenaline will be required to assist your brain and neuromuscular system to respond […]

Many seniors coping with the pain and discomfort of Arthritis find the pain to be overwhelming.  One way to reduce your pain is to build your life around wellness, not pain or sickness such as: Thinking positive thoughts Maintaining a sense of humor Eating a balanced diet Exercising regularly Surrounding yourself with positive people Focusing […]

Did you know that there are many extra benefits when a senior involves in an exercise? As a person ages, the ability to perform ‘instrumental activities of daily living’ (ADLs) diminish.  These activities are important for independent living. They include using the telephone, preparing meals, shopping and handling finances. There are six basic ADLs which […]

Sometimes family members or those very close to a senior may not recognize mental decline as it’s often very gradual.  In identifying areas of concern, it’s important to recognize signs of Alzheimers or dementia so that you can help your senior arrange the help they need in their home to avoid further decline. Here are […]